If you’ve ever complained about the high cost of alcohol while dining out, part of the problem is that restaurants pay what you pay to buy booze.
According to the restaurant industry, they don’t receive a wholesale discount, meaning the price customers pay at the liquor store for wine, beer and spirits is the same price that bars, restaurants, clubs and caterers must pay.
Restaurants Canada issued a report card on various provincial liquor policies and gave B.C. a C-plus.
“The bottom line is for your consumer they’re gong to be paying a lot more and have less selection in B.C. than they would having that same meal and same product in Alberta,” said Restaurants Canada vice-president Mark von Schellwitz.
When it comes to more expensive spirits, Alberta’s flat tax makes a big difference.
“A bottle of premium scotch…is anywhere from 20 to 30 per cent cheaper in Alberta than it is here,” said von Schellwitz.
For the most part, restaurants must order from BC’s Liquor Distribution Branch.
“Our customers, they want quality wines on our wine lists so we can’t just give them what’s on the LDB shelves,” said von Schellwitz.
Chef Pino Posteraro of Ciopppino’s Mediterranean Grill manages the restaurant’s 125-page wine list and he’s been struggling with the B.C. government over its liquor policies for years.
“I think it’s a very messed-up situation and it has been for a long time,” said Posteraro. “We are under scrutiny of clients and customers, especially from people who come from abroad.”
According to Posteraro, out-of-town diners know their wines and often experience sticker shock when dining in B.C.
“A bottle of wine that here costs 100 bucks at the liquor stores, in Alberta it might be 30 to 40 per cent less,” he said.
Posteraro and Restaurants Canada said hospitality is an important part of the economy and it’s time for the province to update its liquor policies.
-With files from John Daly